I am a card-carrying member of ASDT (Adult Survivors of a Dysfunctional Team). I am sure that it is just a coincidence (or the fact that I have been working for many, many years), but I’ve served on a few teams that were not productive.

Dysfunctional teams do tend to get attention, even if the intervention doesn’t always work. The teams that get short shrift are the okay, average and good ones. As long as the team isn’t hopeless or causing too many problems for others, it’s not likely to rise to the top of the boss’ priority list.

Too bad. Great teams are the drivers of amazing results, as reinforced by Harvard Business Review blogger, Judith A. Ross, in Make Your Good Team Great. Research shows that the qualities that drive top team performance can be described as group Emotional Intelligence. In other words, these teams know how to recognize and manage the emotions of their members.

Ms. Ross recommends making time for the team to connect both inter-personally and around their strengths. This will help them appreciate each others’ contributions and tap each person’s strengths. She also emphasizes the importance of teams recognizing and managing the emotions that are sure to arise – the conflicts and the joys.

Kim Kanaga and Henry Browning authored the Center for Creative Leadership’s Keeping Watch: How to Monitor and Maintain a Team. They recommend that leaders regularly monitor a team’s status in six dimensions of team performance:

Clear purpose

Empowering team structure

Strong organizational support

Positive internal relationships

Well-tended external relationships

Efficient information management

The authors suggest ways to evaluate each of these six dimensions, and also expand upon four key indicators, which they liken to the gauges on a car’s dashboard.

Effort – Extent to which members devote time and effort to the task

Knowledge and skills – Degree to which the team possesses the right competencies

Tactics – Using rational, logical and direct approaches to accomplish goals

Group dynamics – Extent to which the team works without undue friction or waste

People who lead teams must regularly “take the pulse” of the team and help them adapt to changing circumstances. Teams need a leader who can smooth the way, ensuring that the team has the information, resources, autonomy and management support that will ensure success. What can you do today to make the life of your team better?

Need help leading your team? Contact Humanergy.

Photo from iStockphoto